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Tuesday, May 10, 2011
PTEROSPERMUM ACERFOLIA - THE DINNER PLATE TREE: USES AND BENEFITS OF PTEROSPERMUM ACERFOLIA TREE
THE DINNER PLATE TREE, MAPLE LEAFED BAYUR TREE, KARNIKARA TREE, PTEROSPERMUM ACERFOLIA, KANAK CHAMPA TREE
This tree has a number of names in many languishes, and it resembles a fig tree. The immature fruit look a little like figs, although as they mature they become more elongated, until they finally split open to release the myriad winged seeds they contain. The name Ptero means winged in Greek, and spermum means seeds, so it’s easy to see how this tree got its name. The seeds pods take a year to become mature, so can be seen on the tree along with the flowers, which give off their fragrance at night. Like some honeysuckles and night-flowering jasmine, the flowers come into their own in the evening and leave a wonderful aroma on the air. There are about 40 species of Pterospermum which live in the Eastern Himalayan area, West Malaysia and South East Asia. They belong to the Malvaceae family or the Sterculiaceae one. It gets its English name from the fact that its leaves are the size of dinner plates and food is sometimes served on them.
Pterospermum acerifolia (also known as Pentapetes acerifolia Linn.) is native to India, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and Thailand and is cultivated in Pakistan and North America, grown on roadsides and as a garden ornamental. There is a huge old tree of this variety in the Pearl Continental Hotel grounds in Rawalpindi. The wood from this tree is used to make packing crates and cases, for planks and ply wood and decorative items.
It is used in folk medicine for a number or purposes; the under part of the leaves are used to staunch bleeding from skin wounds, and the flowers act as mothballs, repelling insects from cloth where they have been laid. A tonic is made from the flowers, which is also used for inflammation, ulcers, tumours, blood problems and leprosy. The bark and leaves have reportedly been used to treat small pox. The bark is used as an anthelmintic to get rid of intestinal parasites. It has been found that the stem bark has antimicrobial properties, while the leaves contain boscialin glucosides which seem to be liver protective. It is thought that they might be useful for sufferers of Type 2 diabetes. The leaves have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties possibly because of the phenolic compounds they contain, and researchers are continuing their research into the medicinal value of this tree.